Sunteți pe pagina 1din 4

Linguistics Puzzles

19th February 2009, 07:49 am

I have an old book which I value a great deal. The book is called 200 Problems in Linguistics and Mathematics and only 1,550 copies were printed in 1972. Luckily, a new extended edition just appeared on the web. Both editions are in Russian, so I decided to translate some of the problems into English. Here is a sample: Problem 1. Here are phrases in Swahili with their English translations:

atakupenda He will love you. nitawapiga I will beat them. atatupenda He will love us. anakupiga He beats you. nitampenda I will love him. unawasumbua You annoy them.

Translate the following into Swahili:

You will love them. I annoy him.

Problem 2. You are given words in Swahili: mtu, mbuzi, jito, mgeni, jitu and kibuzi. Their translations in a different order are: giant, little goat, guest, goat, person and large river. Make the correspondence. Problem 3. In Russian the middle name is the patronymic. Thus, the middle initial is the first letter of the fathers first name. And, as in many languages, the first initial is the first letter of the first name. Here are names of males in a family:

A.N. Petrov B.M. Petrov G.K. Petrov K.M. Petrov K.T. Petrov M.M. Petrov M.N. Petrov N.M. Petrov N.K. Petrov N.T. Petrov

T.M. Petrov

Draw the family tree of the Petrovs, given that every father has two sons, the patriarch of the family has four grandsons, and his sons have two grandsons each. Prove that the solution is unique. Problem 4. In Latvian a noun can be one of two genders; furthermore, adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number and case. You are given phrases in either the nominative or the genitive case with their translations:

silts ezers warm lake melns lauva black lion liela krsns big oven lielas jras big seas sarkana ezera red lakes melna kafija black coffee sarkans putns red bird liela kalna big mountains sarkanas lapas red leafs sarkana pils red castle liels ezers big lake melna putna black birds liela lauvas big lions silta jra warm sea melnas kafijas black coffees liels kalns big mountain

Indicate which words are nouns and which are adjectives. Divide Latvian nouns into two groups, so that each group contains words of the same gender. Problem 5. The Portuguese language takes its roots from Latin. In this problem modern Portuguese words are written on the left and their roots (in Latin and other languages on the right). All the words on the left belong to one of three classes: ancient borrowing, early borrowing and late borrowing.

chegar plicare praino plaine pltano platanum cho planum plebe plebem

cheio plenum prancha planche

For every Portuguese word, indicate which class it belongs to. (Note that in Portuguese ch is pronounced as sh.)

Agoraphobia an abnormal fear of open or public places. Anagram a word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain. Alexander defender of men. Amphibian an animal capable of living both on land and in water. Anthropology the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans. Antipathy a strong feeling of aversion or repugnance. Antonym a word having a meaning opposite to that of another word. Bibliophile a lover of books or a collector of books. Dyslexia a learning disability characterized by problems in reading, spelling, writing, speaking or listening. Fibromyalgia muscle pain. Hippodrome an arena for equestrian shows. Misogyny hatred of women. Otorhinolaryngology the medical specialty concerned with diseases of the ear, nose and throat. Pedophilia the act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children. Polygamy the condition or practice of having more than one spouse at one time. Polyglot a person having a speaking, reading, or writing knowledge of several languages. Tachycardia a rapid heart rate. Telepathy communication through means other than the senses, as by the exercise of an occult power. Toxicology the study of the nature, effects, and detection of poisons and the treatment of poisoning.

In the list below, I picked very rare English words with Greek origins. You can derive the meanings of these words without

looking in a dictionary, just by using your knowledge of the Greek words above.

Barology Bibliophobia Cardialgia Dromomania Gynophilia Hippophobia Logophobia Misandry Misanthropy Misogamy Monandry Monoglottism Mystagogue Pedagogue Philanthropism

Here are some other words. You do not have enough information in this text to derive their definitions, but you might be able to use your erudition to guess the meaning.

Antinomy Apatheist Axiology Dactyloscopy Enneagon Oology Paraskevidekatriaphobia Philadelphia Phytology Triskaidekaphobia